Congregations ignored requests to hand over money, says Dempsey

 

MINISTER FOR Transport Noel Dempsey sharply criticised the religious congregations for the attitude they took to funding when he held the education portfolio.

He said: “I benefited from a good education by the Christian Brothers. Most fair-minded people would acknowledge that the vast majority of the religious who taught in our schools were not involved in abuse.

“However, I was appalled at the attitude taken by the representatives of the congregations when I met them in December 2003 to request that they pay the State the €6 million they received from their insurance companies as an ex gratia payment.

‘‘I told the congregations that they had a moral obligation to hand over this money.

“We subsequently repeated the request twice in writing but were refused on both occasions.

“This underlined the official attitude of the congregations, and we have heard other stories about their treatment of victims in the context of the redress board.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin asked how anyone could even begin to understand a mentality which once went as far as to complain that not enough children were being taken from their families and institutionalised.

“The political system itself also consistently failed,’’ he added.

“At no stage was the welfare of these children a major political issue for government or opposition – and the record of this House shows a general disinterest.’’

David Stanton (FG) said the Ryan report referred to “a dark and dangerous time in our history, a time when our society was closed and when society, the government and the Dáil of the day deferred to a dysfunctional church, where the church was unquestioned and ruled completely”.